By Mac Barnet, Illustrated by Kevin Cornell
Hyperion, $16.99, 32 pages
Everyone come gather around this fun new book because it is time to count the monkeys! Just turn the page to get started…Oops! There are no monkeys on this page. Where did they go? Well, what can we count? There is 1 King Cobra that has scared off all the monkeys. If you turn the page very slowly, he won’t notice and then we can count the monkeys. Ah-ha! 2 Mongooses have chased away the cobra, but still no monkeys! Turn the page again please – oh my! 3 Crocodiles frightened the mongooses but nope, no monkeys.
Count the Monkeys, by Mac Barnett, invites young readers to count all the animals that have frightened the monkeys off the pages. Parents and teachers will notice that Barnett doesn’t choose average, run-of-the-mill animals. He features grizzly bears, wolves, bees, and a snake – all brilliantly illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
The book’s narrator speaks directly to young readers and asks them to actively participate in the storytelling process. Unlike most counting books (where kids are literally just counting items placed in groups of 1-10), Barnett encourages readers to hum a happy tune while smiling to avoid invading bee swarms and high five the lumberjacks who are chasing away pesky wolves.
Illustrator Kevin Cornell’s artwork is hilarious. As more animals show up, the pages get busier and more colorful. The suspense builds as readers wonder if they will ever get to actually count the monkeys. Read this fun book to find out, but be sure to watch over your shoulder for charging polka-dot rhinoceroses!
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin